Posts Tagged ‘listening’




Even as the snow was falling,

the birds in the branches

kept singing into morning,

easing their bright notes

into the thin gray spaces

between snowflakes.


There are days, imagine,

when the birds go unheard.

And it isn’t for lack of song—

the single note chirp

of sparrow, the bass of raven,

the chickadee’s hey swee-tee.


Some gifts come only

when we stay in one place,

come only when we are alone,

come only when we stop praying

to be somewhere else and instead

pray to be here.







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To listen is to lean in, softly, with a willingness to be changed by what we hear.

—Mark Nepo



Let me listen.

Let me not know what to say.

Let me receive the world

as it slurs and shrieks,

hums and whispers,

speaks and bleats.

Let me lean ever closer in.

There are walls I have built

in my ears. There is so much

I would rather not hear.

Let me listen.

Let me receive with wonder.

Let all be worthy of note.

Let me be witness, eavesdropper,

spy. Let me never pretend

to be deaf.

Let the world slip into me

and change me

as light changes a room.

Let me be silent, let me listen,

and in listening,

let me be new.




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I listen for the hidden wholeness, wisdom, and grace.

            —Wayne Muller



I’ve forgotten how to listen

for the hidden wholeness—

trained by the ring of the phone

and the morning alarm and

the unheard bells of the day

that say “go, go, go.”

I’ve forgotten how to be still.

To empty. To unexpect.


Today, though it is May,

the green world is covered

by snow. It’s one way the world

learns to unknow itself.


My teacher reminds me

how the deepest healing

can only take place in the quiet,

the still, the great awake.


I know she is right, but

it is the kind of knowing

that is too certain of itself.


As I walk, I open my hands

to let the snow land there.

I watch the flakes melt.

For a moment, I almost think

I can hear them. For a moment,

I forget who is doing the listening.




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Consider the generosity of the chair,

sitting there with its arms open, its back straight,

its seat ever ready to hold you.


Consider how it was made to support you—

how its legs take all your weight.

Perhaps it is beautiful, artful, handsome.


Perhaps it exists for function alone.

When is the last time you knew yourself

as that useful? When is the last time


you gave yourself so completely to another,

said to them, Sit, please. As long as you wish.

I am here for you. I am here.



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teaching our voices

to kneel to each other—

such a genuine way

to listen

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This is the way
I want to sing,
the way rain does
as it pummels the house,
scouring the gutters—
no way to ignore it
as it batters the rooftop,
the windows, the porch.

I want to sing
that ferocious, that
untamable, true as rain
which touches everything, everything,
even reaches inside
with its deep gray scent,

O great tides of it
changing the landscape,
rearranging the hillsides,
finding the roots—
a song of change right now
and change sure to come.

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Walking into the snow
we speak in plain language.
This is all I need.
What could be more important
to say to each other than,
How are you doing?
and then take the time
to really listen to the answer,
and to the answer beneath
the answer.

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Here, darling, let me
listen to your heart.

Let’s close the computers,
and mute the phones

and hush the long list
of things to do and sit

here together and listen.
We can be alone wherever we are.

Any part of me that wants
to fix you, I will invite it to still.

Any part of me that wants to debate,
I will notice it and allow it to fall.

I will not say anything
at all, except perhaps I’ll hum.

Maybe nothing will happen.
And maybe as the elders say,

we will be changed

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listening tanka

perhaps it was trying
to tell me something,
the full moon—
how close the grass
under my feet

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Here in the silence between
our eyes I hear the rain that is not

Inside silence there is a deeper

We might rush to its edge, or tiptoe, and always
the silence has grown beyond

There are no words here worth
saying. We say them anyway
for the pleasure of slipping
into the space between.

Somewhere a man
is shouting to his friend.

Somewhere a car is grating
into gear.

Somewhere a bird is moved to sing
a one-note song again and again,
a daylong ellipses …

and everywhere this invitation
to look into the other
and know ourselves
as listening.

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